KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Sept. 17 (PIA) - Within two to three years, gold production in the municipality of Tboli will be free from the hazardous chemical, mercury.
Just recently, Tboli Mayor Dibu Tuan issued Executive Order No. 20 s. 2019 "Prohibiting the Use of Mercury in Gold Ore Processing in Tboli, South Cotabato."
According to the order, the ban covers "all smallscale mining areas, and tunnel operators within the approved Minahan Bayan of Kematu and Desawo,Tboli, South Cotabato,"
"Other potential areas like Lemsnolon, Lamhaku, Lambuling, Datal Bob, Mongokayo, Tuduk, and Tibolok are included," it continues.
In lieu of the use of mercury in extracting gold, the LGU recommends the adaption of gravity method.
Since 2015, environmental advocate BanToxics Philippines have promoted among local processors in the Minahang Bayan the application of Benguet method in extracting gold. The process uses gravity and borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) as substitute to gold in the extraction process.
Mercury-free Tboli gold production is expected to be realized within 24 to to 36 months from the EO's effectivity. Mayor Tuan signed the EO on September 9.
To ensure compliance, Mayor Tuan also created a joint inspection team, chaired by himself with members from the Municipal Environment and Natural Office, Office of the Municipal Engineer, Business Permits and Licensing Office, Tboli PNP, BanToxics, Coalition of Social Development Organizations-South Cotabato, a non-mercury processing advocate, and representatives from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau 12 and Provincial Environment Management Office.
The team is mandated to inspect the smallscale mining areas in the Minahang Bayan and the ball mill operators in Barangay Poblacion, meet every 6 months to update the local validating committee regarding issues and concerns and resolve the same or recommend further assistance to smallscale mining operators and investors.
It is also responsible in establishing linkages with potential investors for mercury-free gold processing, conducting research, coordinating with the International Labor Organization for technical assistance, and organizing trainings and capacity-building measures for smallscale mining cooperatives, associations and corporations.
This initiative, Mayor Tuan explained, is in compliance with the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty to protect human health and environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
In 2015, the Provincial Government of South Cotabato received Galing Pook Award for its Minahang Bayan program that promotes sustainable smallscale mining, especially in the gold-rich town of Tboli. (PIA XII)